The Nearest Relative in the Mental Health Act 2007: Still an illusionary and inconsistent safeguard?

Judy Laing, Jeremy Dixon, Kevin Stone, Megan Wilkinson-Tough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The role of nearest relative (NR) is intended as a safeguard in the Mental Health Act 1983 (as amended in 2007) to curb the excesses of professional discretion and protect patients from unwarranted compulsory hospitalisation. It is unique to the mental health compulsory detention process in England and Wales. There are, however, evident tensions in the role and a lack of clarity surrounding the precise functions of the NR. There is also some uncertainty and confusion among practitioners about the scope of the NR involvement, and government plans announced recently to review mental health legislation will include a focus on the role of family and carers in the care of detained patients. Despite long-standing concerns about the role, there is remarkably little published research available to date on its use and effectiveness, in so far as evaluating the extent to which it provides an adequate safeguard for patients, as intended by the legislation. This article will briefly explore the background to the role, highlight some of the difficulties and tensions within it and conclude with some observations about where further research and reform may be needed to provide greater protection and clarity for patients, relatives and health and social care practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-56
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Social Welfare and Family Law
Volume40
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2018

Fingerprint

compulsory hospitalization
professional discretion
mental health
act
legislation
uncertainty
reform
lack
health

Keywords

  • Mental Health Act
  • Nearest Relative
  • Patient rights
  • Safeguard
  • Approved Mental Health Professionals
  • Families and carers

Cite this

The Nearest Relative in the Mental Health Act 2007: Still an illusionary and inconsistent safeguard? / Laing, Judy; Dixon, Jeremy; Stone, Kevin; Wilkinson-Tough, Megan.

In: Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, Vol. 40, No. 1, 06.03.2018, p. 37-56.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{4c7b8814d2414d1880eefc63faa7803d,
title = "The Nearest Relative in the Mental Health Act 2007: Still an illusionary and inconsistent safeguard?",
abstract = "The role of nearest relative (NR) is intended as a safeguard in the Mental Health Act 1983 (as amended in 2007) to curb the excesses of professional discretion and protect patients from unwarranted compulsory hospitalisation. It is unique to the mental health compulsory detention process in England and Wales. There are, however, evident tensions in the role and a lack of clarity surrounding the precise functions of the NR. There is also some uncertainty and confusion among practitioners about the scope of the NR involvement, and government plans announced recently to review mental health legislation will include a focus on the role of family and carers in the care of detained patients. Despite long-standing concerns about the role, there is remarkably little published research available to date on its use and effectiveness, in so far as evaluating the extent to which it provides an adequate safeguard for patients, as intended by the legislation. This article will briefly explore the background to the role, highlight some of the difficulties and tensions within it and conclude with some observations about where further research and reform may be needed to provide greater protection and clarity for patients, relatives and health and social care practitioners.",
keywords = "Mental Health Act, Nearest Relative, Patient rights, Safeguard, Approved Mental Health Professionals, Families and carers",
author = "Judy Laing and Jeremy Dixon and Kevin Stone and Megan Wilkinson-Tough",
year = "2018",
month = "3",
day = "6",
doi = "10.1080/09649069.2018.1414366",
language = "English",
volume = "40",
pages = "37--56",
journal = "Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law",
issn = "0964-9069",
publisher = "Routledge",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The Nearest Relative in the Mental Health Act 2007: Still an illusionary and inconsistent safeguard?

AU - Laing, Judy

AU - Dixon, Jeremy

AU - Stone, Kevin

AU - Wilkinson-Tough, Megan

PY - 2018/3/6

Y1 - 2018/3/6

N2 - The role of nearest relative (NR) is intended as a safeguard in the Mental Health Act 1983 (as amended in 2007) to curb the excesses of professional discretion and protect patients from unwarranted compulsory hospitalisation. It is unique to the mental health compulsory detention process in England and Wales. There are, however, evident tensions in the role and a lack of clarity surrounding the precise functions of the NR. There is also some uncertainty and confusion among practitioners about the scope of the NR involvement, and government plans announced recently to review mental health legislation will include a focus on the role of family and carers in the care of detained patients. Despite long-standing concerns about the role, there is remarkably little published research available to date on its use and effectiveness, in so far as evaluating the extent to which it provides an adequate safeguard for patients, as intended by the legislation. This article will briefly explore the background to the role, highlight some of the difficulties and tensions within it and conclude with some observations about where further research and reform may be needed to provide greater protection and clarity for patients, relatives and health and social care practitioners.

AB - The role of nearest relative (NR) is intended as a safeguard in the Mental Health Act 1983 (as amended in 2007) to curb the excesses of professional discretion and protect patients from unwarranted compulsory hospitalisation. It is unique to the mental health compulsory detention process in England and Wales. There are, however, evident tensions in the role and a lack of clarity surrounding the precise functions of the NR. There is also some uncertainty and confusion among practitioners about the scope of the NR involvement, and government plans announced recently to review mental health legislation will include a focus on the role of family and carers in the care of detained patients. Despite long-standing concerns about the role, there is remarkably little published research available to date on its use and effectiveness, in so far as evaluating the extent to which it provides an adequate safeguard for patients, as intended by the legislation. This article will briefly explore the background to the role, highlight some of the difficulties and tensions within it and conclude with some observations about where further research and reform may be needed to provide greater protection and clarity for patients, relatives and health and social care practitioners.

KW - Mental Health Act

KW - Nearest Relative

KW - Patient rights

KW - Safeguard

KW - Approved Mental Health Professionals

KW - Families and carers

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85043599717&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1080/09649069.2018.1414366

DO - 10.1080/09649069.2018.1414366

M3 - Article

VL - 40

SP - 37

EP - 56

JO - Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law

JF - Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law

SN - 0964-9069

IS - 1

ER -